Hiking Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not only a scenic motorway but also a conduit for exploring trails along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking is a time-honored favorite of motorists, who engage in treks ranging from little leg stretchers to all day adventures, even overnight backpacks for those inclined. Walks to waterfalls, tough hikes to well-earned overlooks, and simple leg stretcher hikes to break up the drive all await along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway.

Parkway Hikes Less Than a Mile

Mountain Farm Trail
milepost 5.9             
.5 mile
Walk among an assemblage of former mountain farm buildings from Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Interpretive information adds an educational component to the sights

Wigwam Falls                                  
milepost 34.4           
.4 mile
Visit the reconstructed Irish Creek Railway, then make a short loop up to the 30-foot cascade, flowing boldest in spring.

James River Self-Guiding Trail
milepost 63
.4 mile
Leave the James River Visitor Center to view a relic lock and canal system from the early 1800s, augmented with interpretive information and river views.

Parkway Hikes 1 to 3 Miles

White Rocks Falls
milepost 20.0
2.0 miles
Cross the Parkway from The Slacks Overlook, descending past an outcrop with a stellar view. Continue to White Rocks Falls, spilling 30 feet into a stone amphitheater.

Fallingwater Cascades
milepost 83.1
1.6 miles
Enter the rugged canyon of Fallingwater Creek, reaching 100-plus foot Fallingwater Cascade. Explore a geologically rich canyon on your return trip from the falls.

Smart View
milepost 154.5
3.0 miles
Start at an historic cabin then visit a creek. Wander through woods and fields, before finding a far-reaching view of the Virginia Piedmont.

Parkway Hikes 3 to 6 miles

Humpback Rocks Loop
milepost 6.0
4 mile loop
Climb the old AT to the current AT and reach Humpback Rocks with a magnificent view. Descend to walk historic Howardsville Turnpike on your return.

Bluff Mountain
milepost 51.5
3.8 miles
Take the Appalachian Trail past the purportedly haunted Punchbowl Mountain trail shelter, then ascend Bluff Mountain, with panoramas and the mystery of Ottie Powell.

Black Ridge Trail
milepost 169.0
3.1 miles
Cruise high country open pastures with stellar views before joining woods rife with mountain laurel and rhododendron. Loop back, soaking in views of Rock Castle Gorge.

Fisher Peak Loop
milepost 213.0
3.3 miles
Combine the High Meadow Trail and Fisher Peak Trail to loop through meadows, woods and along a mountains stream. Enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Music Center below.

More Parkway hikes

The following hiking trails include only those that are about a mile or longer.

  • Milepost 6 - From Humpback Gap parking lot to Humpback Mountain hike part of the Appalachian Trail = 2 miles; strenuous
  • Milepost 18.5 - 20 - White Rock Falls Trail follows a stream to small falls = 2.9 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 60.8 - Otter Creek Trail begins at Otter Creek Campground = 3.5 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 63.1 - Otter Lake Trail goes around Otter Lake = .8 mile; moderate
  • Milepost 78.4 - Apple Orchard Falls Trail = 1.2 miles; strenuous
  • Milepost 83.1 - Fallingwater Cascades Trail - a National Recreation Trail = 1.6 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 83.5 - Flat Top Trail leads to highest of three prominent peaks = 4.4 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 85.7 - Abbott Lake Trail loops around Abbott Lake = 1 mile; easy
  • Milepost 85.9 - Elk Run Trail is a self-guided nature loop from Peaks of Otter Visitors Center = .8 mile; easy
  • Milepost 85.9 - Johnson Farm Loop Trail from Peaks of Otter = 2.1 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 85.9 - Harkening Hill Trail from Peaks of Otter = 3.3 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 86 - Sharp Top Trail from the camp store to the summit of Sharp Top Mountain = 1.5 miles; strenuous
  • Milepost 91-95.9 - Appalachian Trail to various overlooks = moderate
  • Milepost 96 - Spec Mines Trail is a U.S. Forest Service trail = 2.8 miles; strenuous
  • Milepost 97 - Appalachian Trail to Blackhorse Gap = .8 mile; moderate
  • Milepost 121.4 - Roanoke Valley Horse Trail parallels Parkway = 18.5 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 154.5. - Smart View Loop Trail around the picnic area = 2.6 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 167.1 - Rock Castle Gorge Trail = 10.8 miles; strenuous
  • Milepost 167.1 - Hardwood Cove Nature Trail = .8 mile; moderate
  • Milepost 169 - Black Ridge Trail from the Rocky Knob Visitors Center = 3.1 miles; moderate
  • Milepost 169 - Rocky Knob Picnic Loop Trail = 1 mile; easy
  • Milepost 176.2 - Mabry Mill's Mountain Industry Trail = .5 mile; easy